Oysters

Publié le :

Lance Arthur may be a latebloomer, but he's a courageous one:

Oysters are amazing. Have you tried them yet? I recommend that you do.

The thing about oysters is that they look like huge boogers bathing in mucus. They are not an attractive food. Plus, I have an aversion to mussels, such that if I eat only the tiniest piece of one, everything inside of me will start rushing to get outside of me using the most convenient bodily orifice available, meaning all of them, at the same time, for hours. So I wasn't excited about hopping on board the oyster boat and sucking back a few big gobs of snot.

I tend to think that the most courageous human being in history was (and still is) the first one who ate an oyster. Frankly, look at an oyster. Not the one that is served to you, already opened, on a nice plate in a restaurant. Imagine yourself on the coast, seeing this ugly, malformed rock with razor-like edges for the first time in your life. Would you grab it? Would you go as far as to associate that with food? (Those who associate McDonalds with food may dismiss now, thanks.) You may think that the first one to eat an oyster may have done it by accident, discovered a broken one and saw there was something that, for their pre-historic standards looked eatable, was desperately hungry, or deeply stupid. I have the weakness to think it was brave, may be because it took me a lot of courage to eat my first oyster not that long ago.

You see, besides alcohol, there are a few social skills that are imposed on you as a French person. Oysters are a big one. Every year, at Christmas and New Eve, or at formal classy diners in the proper season, escaping oysters in France is Mission Impossible. I can't remember how I did it (although thoughts of "everything inside of me will start rushing to get outside of me using the most convenient bodily orifice available" associated with angry mom and ruined diner start to emerge from ancient memory), but I managed to convince my parents that I was perfectly happy with snails while the rest of the family would gob those alien things, alive, with disturbing noises. Though, my father kept threatening me that one day, I would be invited to an important diner and presented with oysters and that, no, it wouldn't be a good idea to... you know what.

I can't remember when I ate my first oyster, but I do remember that it was not easy to contain myself while doing so, less take any pleasure from it. The main reason is that there was no way I could swallow it without chewing it. Just the idea was, for a long time, unbearable. And folks around would maintain me in the belief that you should just swallow them directly. I've come a long way since, firstly realizing that there are lots of people around who pretend that they like oysters but would never chew one, secondly that the proper way of tasting them is actually to chew them a little, otherwise you'd better just order a glass of oyster juice (or sea water, with lemon, shallots and ketchup, if you're that disturbed).

Eventually, as a good social citizen, partly to please the inviting powers, partly in curiosity to educate myself on this food ritual that looks like a religious experience, I came to appreciate oysters. It took me years and more attempts than how many oysters the average French gobbler can eat in a single meal. I'm still picky about the kind of oysters I can eat. I still cannot bear the big ones, full with laitance. And you'll never, ever, make me eat one that I didn't see closed in the previous hour and that's not alive when it reaches my plate. Hopefully I live in a country where that comes for granted, so is the standard.

Lance puts up la morale de l'histoire so nicely:

My point is probably obvious to everyone but the former me I keep tattooed to my ass. Try everything once. Abandon fear of the unknown and the new. Strike out and do. Take chances, taste things, try on that jacket you could never wear in public, buy those shoes, go to India, talk to that guy you see every day and wish you could talk to, take off your shirt and pants and visit the nude beach, sing on the street, arrive late to work, dance your heart out, be foolish and brave and foolhardy and amazing.

Now, Lance, do what you say and come visit us in Paris. Please. We have great oysters ;-).